An Exploration of Gender Bias, Framing, and Student Loan Decisions Through an Experimental Design

  • Travis P. MountainEmail author
  • Namhoon Kim
  • Michael S. Gutter
  • Elizabeth Kiss
  • Soo Hyun Cho
  • Carrie L. Johnson
Original Paper


As student loan debt is one of the fastest growing concerns for American households today, we need to understand the decision making behind student loan behavior to deal with the high student loan debt level properly. For this purpose, following a behavioral economics framework, we examine how variation in framing scenarios including gender bias, negative and positive framing, and aspiration for college degree framing, affects participant’s perceptions about the wisdom of using student loans and appropriate borrowing amounts. To analyze these framing affects, we obtained 1847 participants through an online survey describing a hypothetical student’s considerations related to attending college. We applied nonlinear regression with probit analysis and found that participants in the experiment had an implicit gender bias by recommending higher student loan debt for men than for women. However, additional information regarding the value of a college degree given in the female scenario encouraged them to take student loans and increase the amount of student loans.


Framing and reference points Gender Online experiment Student loan Implicit bias 



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Applied EconomicsVirginia Tech UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural & Rural Policy ResearchKorea Rural Economic InstituteJeollanamdoSouth Korea
  3. 3.University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  4. 4.School of Family Studies and Human ServicesKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  5. 5.Department of Family & Consumer SciencesCalifornia State University-Long BeachLong BeachUSA
  6. 6.NDSU Extension, Department of Human Development & Family ScienceNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA

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